The False Dichotomy of the "Pro-Choice" Politicians

Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director of Priests for Life
November 09, 1998

"It has been a particular sadness to the bishops of the United States and to Catholics active in the pro-life movement that so many Catholic politicians have succumbed to the pressures exerted by pro abortion advocates. Many of these politicians resort to the explanation that they are personally opposed to abortion, but they do not feel that they can impose their own moral judgment upon others. Again and again the Bishops of the United States have attempted, both collectively and individually, to disabuse politicians of this false dichotomy."

Thus spoke Bernard Cardinal Law on October 23 of this year, at a meeting of European politicians and legislators convened by the Pontifical Council for the Family, Vatican City.

Having preached to, listened to, and worked with such pro-life people in every state in the nation, I for one can certainly attest to the existence of this sadness among Catholics active in the pro-life movement.

One man on the street put it simply and effectively when he asked me, "Father, if that politician can't respect the life of a little baby, how can I expect him to respect mine?"

Good question.

I have posed it, in other words, to officials at the highest levels of our government. What issue, I have repeatedly asked, is more fundamental to those who govern the political community than that of who belongs to the political community? How can a public servant claim to serve the public and ignore the systematic destruction of a whole segment of the public he claims to serve?

"We have to govern everybody," some say in their defense.

That is our point precisely. That is why we oppose a Supreme Court decision that says, "The word person, as used in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, does not include the unborn." (Roe vs. Wade).

"The government shouldn’t be involved in abortion," others claim.

In fact, the government became too involved in abortion when, in 1973, it overstepped its authority and asserted that it could decide who has the right to live and who doesn't. It you want the government out of abortion, then tell the government to back off and stop pretending that it is the source of the right to life. Let it start acting as the guardian of that right instead.

"The law shouldn’t impose religious beliefs."

We don't want it to. The law that says you can't take my life does not require you to believe anything about my life. It just says you can't take it. All the pro-life movement is saying is to extend that protection equally to all members of the human species.

"There are many issues."

Of course there are, and the reason is that human life and dignity is threatened in many ways. Deny the equal right to life of all, however, and you undermine every legitimate cause at the same time.

"Personally opposed but…" A false dichotomy, indeed.

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